LONDON (Reuters) - Black and Asian people in England are up to 50% more likely to die after becoming infected with COVID-19, an official study said on Tuesday, putting pressure on the government to outline plans to protect the most at-risk communities.
While the report by Public Health England (PHE) reinforced previous studies which indicated ethnic minority groups were more at risk from the virus, it was not accompanied by specific government advice for those people.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that equalities minister Kemi Badenoch would look at the issue further.
“We will put action in place as soon as we can. We won’t wait for a report,” Hancock said.
Doctors, politicians and footballers have been among those vocal in expressing concern about the unexplained higher mortalities in ethnic minorities.
The report said that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had approximately twice the risk of death of people who were white British.
Those of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani or other Asian ethnicity, as well as those of Caribbean or other Black ethnicity, had between a 10 to 50% higher risk of death than those in the white British group, PHE said.
The findings echo a previous study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released last month.
The opposition Labour party called for swift action.
“Families are living in fear. There must be no more delay. The government must take urgent action to protect at-risk groups,” lawmaker David Lammy said.
Britain’s testing chief John Newton said although Tuesday’s report showed worse outcomes for minority groups, it may not be directly caused by their ethnicity, but related to their job.
The report was published a day before planned protests in London about the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Michael Holden and Stephen Addison
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